Catherine Street Blurs Belief & Reality At The Dick Institute

By Rose Shillito | 19 February 2007
drawing of a tiled floor with what looks like hair and twigs in the corner and the words 'scenes of violence' written on it

Street's images blur the lines between belief and reality. © the artist

The debut show from up-and-coming Edinburgh-based artist Catherine Street is currently being exhibited at the Dick Institute in Kilmarnock.

I Dreamed Your Dream For You And Now Your Dream Is Real runs until March 31 2007 and explores the themes of myth, violence, political intrigue and the supernatural.

In particular, Street investigates the abuse of power, the glamourisation of violence and the spectacle of tarnished heroism in Scottish folklore. She uses the gallery space to create a theatrical environment, drawing upon tales of horror and the supernatural to full dramatic effect.

Street’s work is concerned with contrasting the thoughts we use to comfort ourselves with and the harsh realities of life, placing reassuring images against a background of stark reality.

photo of a hand with hair clippings on it

Street draws upon tales of horror and the supernatural. © the artist

The artist presents herself as both all-knowing and impotent, and recurring themes of fakery, trickery and illusion serve to subtly undermine our feelings of safety and certainty.

Written pieces refer to political and government organisations as the architects of laws and policies that affect the living flesh of people. The metaphor is carried through the visual pieces, using the face and head as a recurring motif.

Street’s film work with Ben Ewart-Dean depicts parts of the body being covered by ink and paint to evoke powerful images of violence and bloodletting. The ultimate effect is a tumultuous scene of chaos and destruction.

Next, a large ominous-looking black sculpture seems to have crashed to the floor like a broken crucifix. Street invites the viewer to look through the decaying and punctured cloth to glimpse another, perhaps better, world beyond.

photo of a seated person wearing white gloves and holding a book titled the best tricks

The works subtly undermine our feeling of safety and certainty. © the artist

The show concludes with a live installation featuring the artist herself. Here, Street has been chained to her studio desk, which has been sawn in half and padlocked shut around her neck. This disturbing image was partly inspired by a trip to the dungeon of Kilmarnock’s Dean Castle.

On one level it looks at how the artist is prisoner of her own ideas and beliefs. On another, Street is referring to fetishism and medieval torture, humiliation and restraint.

Then on another level still, the work evokes the famous conjuror’s act of sawing the lady in half. It is typical of the way Street’s artwork blurs the realms of belief and actual experience.

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